Name: Rosa Vasquez Zaremba
Hometown: South Plainfield
Kids: Leonardo, 5, and Aurora, 2
Business: MA Of NJ
New Jersey Family: What makes your business unique?
Rosa Vasquez Zaremba: MA of NJ is exclusively for charitable and educational purposes that work to empower and provide social-economic change through the power of education. We provide educational and career services to Hispanic and Latino underserved high school and college students, as well as the community at large. By offering free bilingual classes, workshops and conferences to the parents and students on various topics of interest, such as SAT prep and coding courses (Python, R, SQL), Pathway to College & Career Exploration, Professional Development and Community Outreach workshops.
NJF: When did you launch the business, and what was your biggest inspiration to get it off the ground?
RZ: MA of NJ was established in 2018! The inspiration behind creating an organization like MA of NJ came from talking to college students who are Hispanic and Latino who needed help. Most of them were first time generation going to college and had no clue of what their options were when it came to college and had no access to mentorship or career readiness to get them ready for their first “big job.” Many parents also felt frustrated because they did not know how to help their kids or were impeded because they could not speak or read English. Connecting with individuals that can relate and feel comfortable with makes it easier to ask questions, which in return makes them more knowledgeable and empowered. I was lucky enough to have a guidance counselor to encourage me to go to college and apply for scholarships. Most students who are not as lucky as having someone pushing them to pursue higher education and become something they never dreamed of. Which is why MA of NJ was created.
NJF: In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, small businesses are being hit hard. How has this affected your business?
RZ: The challenges that we have encountered due to the black swan event, the COVID-19 pandemic has made MA of NJ re-think its strategy and adapt. One of our projects right now is partnering the United Way promoting the 2020 Census because we know the importance of an accurate census count, as the census data is the foundation for the allocation of billions of dollars of federal education aid to states and localities using formulas that factor in population and poverty levels. An accurate census is key to schools getting the funding they need to serve every child who walks through their doors. We had to pivot our strategy and go 100 percent online, boosting our social media outreach and hosting virtual fiestas. Our vigorous commitment to reach and interact with the Hispanic and Latino communities communicating the importance of completing the census has been a success to date. We have also utilized Google Classroom with regards to the free workshops and classes we offer.
NJF: How have you pivoted your business to adapt to this stressful and uncertain time? What can others do to support you?
RZ: We have moved our strategy 100 percent online at this time. We ask that you connect with us on social media, apply to be a virtual volunteer and if you can, please donate at maofnj.org. Your contribution will go towards funding our mission, classes, workshops and scholarships we provide.
NJF: How are you and your business giving back through this period?
RZ: We have been providing essential information on food pantries and other vital resources available for people in need via social media and virtual meetings.
NJF: What will be the first thing you do as a business when this is behind us?
RZ: We will resume our in-person workshops and classes so that we can reach those that don’t have access to our new online offers.
NJF: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever gotten?
RZ: If you have a passion for what you do, it will not just change lives but also help you grow personally and professionally.